Kiss Me, Magdalena Ribbing

In Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, there is an etiquette column, hosted by a lady called Magdalena Ribbing. The good people of Sweden send their collected worries and anxieties to this lady, in search of answers and advice. The questions that are causing the country to stay awake at night, fretting furiously, include the following:

1) Is it OK to blow your nose at the dinner table?
2) How do I eat pizza, with my hands or with a knife or fork?
3) What kind of hat should I wear to an English wedding?
4) Can ladies wear brown shoes after 5 o’ clock?
5) When may one start eating?

I haven’t made these up, I swear. Find them, and many others, here (all in Swedish, naturally) –

My answers would be:

1) Yes, but only if you offer some to the host.
2) With a straw, while waiting for surgery
3) One of those ones with space for 2 beer cans.
4) Only if they sprinkle salt on them and speak in tongues
5) When Paris Hilton had finally buggered off home

To me, these pleas for help sounds like the desperate call of a land that has lost its way, a population that hasn’t a clue how to think for itself. If you are not sure whether or not you should whip out your todger at the dinner table and dip it into the soup of the lady sitting next to you, then I think you should do us all a favour and just stay at home.

/ paddy

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9 thoughts on “Kiss Me, Magdalena Ribbing

  1. … while the many smug Irish bigots I have met are sooo worldly and sophisticated! I visited Ireland extensively in 1994 and 1995 and, even in Dublin, if felt like stepping back to the Victorian era or whatever! Irland är verkligen Europas rövhål!

  2. Julia: Me, a bigot? I slag off the Irish as much as anybody. And so do the other Irish. The true mark of a civilised society is one that can make fun of itself. And Sweden has a looong way to go here.

  3. I agree, the column is ridiculous but the fact that it exists doesn’t mean all of Sweden has lost its way or that swedes can’t think for themselves. It’s simply a fun column with outdated advice on how to behave in certain situations. People read it, it sparks discussion. No one takes it seriously.

    Read today’s column where she gives awful advice to some poor smoker.

  4. “The true mark of a civilised society is one that can make fun of itself. And Sweden has a looong way to go here.”

    The Oirish, on the other hand, are sooo worldly and civilized!

    I know, I am repeating myself, but that’s exactly my point.

    The upper and upper-middle classes are so very “fresh” and “modern” that they remind me of Victorian wax statues that have been preserved in a mixture of mothballs and formaldehyde since the days of O’Conell. If you go to Ballsbridge and meet those crusty relics, visit their homes and get a chance to observe their family and social life, you will definitely step back in time! Lenin’s mummy is lively and reassuring in comparison!

    Rough transcript of an intimate family conversation (my English is terrible, so I apologize for its clumsiness):

    – Julia, have you read anything by George Orwell?
    – No, M’am. I’m afraid I haven’t.
    – How is that POSSIBLE? You MUST read some of his works! He is BY FAR the most influential writer in the English language!
    – Oh, mother, he IS NOT!
    – But OF COURSE he is! Now, Gabriel dear, how is the sale of your property on Lansdowne Rd going? But let’s all go and have tea in the conservatory. [To the cranky old maid:] Miss Michaels, please, serve tea in the conservatory, will you? And don’t forget the cucumber sandwiches, cut ever so thin!
    – Have you heard anything about Georgiana? I heard she is engaged with a solicitor. Proinnsias saw them at Bewley’s last week.
    – Actually, he saw them at the Abbey. He said she looked GORGEOUS!
    – With Oliver, of course! His father works at the American embassy. They, too, know the Kennedies.
    – I always told you, Gabriel, you SHOULD have married Georgiana! Instead, you ran off with that dreadful Spanish girl with no position and no money to speak of… By the way, Maura has just let one of her studios in Temple Bar to an ITALIAN girl, a student of some sort, although I advised her not to. Spaniards and Italians, you know: They will steal and damage all you’ve got. Just imagine: an ITALIAN girl! What an ALARMING idea!

    And so on and so forth ad nauseam! Yet you have the AUDACITY to complain about the “typically Swedish” phenomenon known as Magdalena Ribbing (who is actually not at all that strict and old-fashioned, by the way!)

    Not to speak of the prejudiced louts from the country, the petty and “ambitious” middle-class clones and the rough, illiterate working-class alkies I met. A nightmare NEVER to be repeated!

  5. Julia: Yes, yes, the Irish are annoying. I agree – I’m in Sweden, aren’t I? But the Irish CAN laugh at themselves. Like me, look – “Paddy, you’re a bigot and a twit. And a tosser. You should be ashamed.” See? I’m laughing like hell!

  6. If all (or most) Irishmen were like you, I would move there ASAP! :)

    It’s not that I can’t laugh at myself. I guess I just have a long-standing grudge against Ireland and the Irish… Blame it on the handsome Irish lover who rejected me! ;)

    Just, what is so typically Swedish about Ms Ribbing?

  7. PS: Also, it has been quite a while (about 15 years) since I last visited Ireland. Have things changed in the meantime? Has Irish society become more open, dynamic and mobile? The mentality less provincial and authoritarian?

    PS: We Swedes can be annoying, too. In fact, I have just moved to the States. :)

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